Medicago minima

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaFabaceaeMedicagoMedicago minima


A winter-annual of dry, open, sandy or gravelly places; also occasionally found as a casual, introduced with wool shoddy. Lowland.



World Distribution

Eurosiberian Southern-temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.

© K.J. Walker, BSBI

Broad Habitats

Acid grassland (includes non-calcareous sandy grassland)

Light (Ellenberg): 9

Moisture (Ellenberg): 3

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 2


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.9

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.5

Annual Precipitation (mm): 623

Life form information

Height (cm): 20

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 54

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 7

Atlas Change Index: -1.97

Distribution information

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Medicago minima (L.) L.

Bur medick

Status: scarce


This plant grows on dry sandy heaths in Breckland and in open sandy or gravelly places on the coast. It is a plant of open low vegetation which tolerates little competition. In Breckland it is found on low banks, on road verges, disturbed ground by rabbit warrens and it sometimes grows in small quantity. Its associates include Achillea millefolium, Aphanes inexspectata, Arenaria serpyllifolia, Catapodium rigidum, Cerastium arvense, Erodium cicutarium, Galium verum and Rumex acetosella. It is frequently found recorded as a casual, often introduced with wool shoddy.

M. minima is an annual, reproducing entirely from seed, which germinates in the autumn (Trist 1979).

It is still frequent in the Breckland, and in open places around the coast, but it is decreasing where lack of grazing has allowed its habitats to become more rank.

It is widespread in Europe, as far north as Britain and Denmark, and also found in Asia, Africa and parts of the New World.


D. A. Pearman

PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (103a)
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.